Democracy under threat?

And how this relates to photography.

I came upon this information whilst watching one of my favorite YouTube channels, which is about motorcycles in the UK. Prior to starting a family, I owned several motorcycles, and they were my preferred mode of travel. Fast forward to 2022 and I have a nice SUV sitting in the driveway that is a pleasure to drive but given the current price of petrol and the very real likelihood of increasing fuel costs, I am once again contemplating becoming a motorcycle owner.

Now that I have the time, I want to explore our country and undertake various photography trips. Most of which very rapidly become untenable given the cost of running a modern vehicle. Like most SUV’s they aren’t all that economic to run when compared to other cars we have previously owned.

With that in mind I have been watching numerous YT channels about motorcycles both vintage and new and in the process discovered some really interesting viewing.

When this was first mentioned in Stuarts YouTube video, I wasn’t entirely sure I was hearing it right so I rewatched it paying more attention to what was said. Stuart has a somewhat drawn-out accent and a slow delivery style, so it may take a moment to become accustomed to his commentary style.

In essence the city of Oxford is in effect forcing major transportation and movement restrictions on its residents in 2024. This will limit the amount of travel residents will be allowed within the confines of the city. It is suggested that this in an effort to minimize emissions and save the planet. With cars and trucks having to fit mandatory “black boxes” that will have the ability to track you and your vehicles every movement. It doesn’t take much to realize this can be used as a speed infringement tool as well as knowing your exact location at any time your vehicle moves. It was at this point alarm bells really started to go off.

Fortunately, so far, motorcycles and e-bikes are not included in these measures nor is your ability to walk or I should imagine taking public transport. Although these things may change as well. Most buses are fossil fueled and classed as heavy emitters which negates some of what the Oxford council is trying to achieve. While trains may be of use there is only so much that they can do. Trying to travel around Oxford with a car and a camera could well become an impossibility given you are only to travel out of your assigned area 100 times per year, so how are you going to get to work? make an emergency trip to a hospital? Perhaps you need to talk to the Oxford council for an exemption or decide on what day you are going to be unwell. Completely farcical!!

Something else that escaped notice was the city of Paris introducing what appears to be an almost identical set of directives last year. I haven’t yet seen much information in this regard, but I have to wonder just how Parisians feel about that.

How does this impact us here in New Zealand? At present we are free to move about pretty much wherever we want. Like the UK government our government wants to see the end of the importation of I.C.E. vehicles by 2030 or there about, perhaps earlier for some imports. This would have us move to an EV fleet. All well and good but I see little in the way of cohesive infrastructure being implemented, and would our national grid be able to support wholesale EV use.

For those of us, and there will be many, the option of changing to an EV is not affordable at current prices. Millions of us will still be relying on fossil fueled vehicles for some time. The next logical step in the climate conscious sectors will be to restrict the use of this type of vehicle and to grossly over inflate the cost of fuel, making it prohibitive to even move from your driveway.

Not only will that impact those of us who like to travel about and take photos, but the economic ramifications of these sorts of actions will be staggering.

You may have wondered why your favorite photography gear has become so expensive. It’s in large part driven by shipping costs. Under global climate agreements all shipping companies now have to move to climate friendly fuels for the ships that transport all your goods. In a lot of cases this has meant shipping companies have had to scrap ships that used bunker oil and build replacements. There’s a cost to all this.

All of most of these measures are being undertaken by governments around the world without public knowledge. Media companies are not covering this or if they do it appears that information is watered down.

As the people of Oxford are slowly coming to understand, the democratic process is being quietly subverted. We see that here in New Zealand as well with certain sectors of industry having to comply with draconian legislation that will almost guarantee business failing.

Here in New Zealand, we are constantly fed a list of things that have to change because they are bad for the planet. That may well be, but a great deal of care needs to be exercised for long term gain. What we see here and in Oxford is a willingness to shove through feel good decrees that are yet to demonstrate a sound outcome. The democratic process has constantly been pushed to one side by the use of the mantra “it’s good for the planet” and it may well be but, but just because someone says that doesn’t give elected individuals the right to subvert due process.

As photographers we love to move about and record what we see, coming changes to the way we live may well curtail this activity, I suggest we all keep a very close eye on climate issues and regulations going forward.

Going forward I will be watching events in the UK and will post my findings here. In the meantime, enjoy your Xmas break.

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Testing the 700D & kit lens

You often here people say that a camera that has a kit lens doesn’t give good results. In the past kit lenses have been notorious for poor quality and were hit and miss at best.

I dont believe thats true any longer. While a kit lens may not be as tack sharp as a prime lens, nor as bright, today the kit lens that comes with a new camera is invariably a good lens.

Theres a great deal of snobbery foisted around in photographic circles when it come to this subject. Sure there are bad copies of certain lenses, but by and large these days what you get is pretty good, and with a price a quarter or less that of premium lenses, for a good many of us all we can afford or really need.
The XC 16-50 from Fuji and there XC15-45 are both very good performers, as is there XF18-55, hardly what I would call a kit lens.

The same can be said for the 18-55 EFS STM lens that came with my recent purchase a Canon 700D. I haven’t yet settled on the lens that will be bolted on the camera 99% of the time. The contenders are Canon’s 18-135 STM and 18-200 IS lens. Also in the mix is the Tamron 18-270.

But for now I’m satisfied with the performance of my current 18-55 STM lens. It is notably better than my previous 18-55 IS III lens that I had on my 650D. That particular lens was also very good but this newer lens is significantly better.

With no shortage of willing participants I simply lent on the fence by the house and snapped away. Even the local Agri-chopper turned up for a spraying demonstration.

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Wot?

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A woolly jumper.

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I dont think he can see me.

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About to get wet.

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Climbing over the top.

For a kit lens this ones a keeper. Easy to print nice crisp images at A2 or A3 or like I do at a4. Dont forget to show your standard zoom lenses some love from time to time, you may just be surprised at what they can do.

Happy Snappin.

Xmas 2022, pre-owned buyers guide.

In the market for a nice camera. Looking at purchasing pre-owned?

The do’s and dont’s.

I would suggest Canon above any other manufacturer, not because Canon is necessarily the best but rather because they have the greatest share of the market and a greater level of support, at least for those buying new. For those of us on a more modest budget the pre-owned market is where we need to look.

Obviously you need to have a budget in mind and then make your choices accordingly. For this exercise lets keep the Budget at $650.00 NZD. (Roughly $420 USD)

With this outlay we need to obtain a camera with at least one lens. You should never buy a used body only unless you already have a lens to suit, even then its a chance I wouldn’t take. Often times camera bodies develop problems, its far rarer to have a fault in a lens ( although not unknown, certainly less likely). You are looking to buy a fully functioning unit, and in my experience the best way to buy. I bought a supposedly fully working second body with my last 700D and it turned out to be faulty. As I had no way to know if the body was working at time of purchase all I could do was use it for spare parts. This had no warranty or returns.

Make sure you are happy with your purchase if the buyer cant give you an up to date shutter count, this is important as its an indication of how much use and wear and tear the camera is likely to have experienced.

Look to get basic accessories as part of the purchase, camera bag, spare battery and charger, SD card etc. You can see a list of extras I obtained with my latest purchase

I’ve used the latest listings from Trademe for this guide as here in New Zealand its local and the obvious place to start. Theres obviously E-Bay and other international sources but in most instances the freight cost makes it less a viable option.

In the $500-$650 range you could opt for:

70D,60D,800D,750D,650D,1500D,100D. These all have flip out screens except for the EOS100D & 1500D
Most of these camera come with a full range of accessories and most but not all offer at least a second lens, with one 70D being a three lens kit, well worth looking at if you dont mind a larger DSLR. For me the 650D and the 600D are too expensive in this price bracket and most dont offer any extras.

In the $400-$500 range look for:

750D,700D,650D,600D, all have flip out or tilt screens at 920.00 dots or better.

The 1500D,1300D,1200D,3000D,EOS100D, all come with a fixed screens, the 1200D has a 460,000 dot screen the 1300 & 1500D’s have a 920,00 dot screen and the EOS100d has 1,040,000. The 3000D even though its a late model entry level camera only has 230,00 dots. This sounds poor but its the same as the 1000D and 1100D, both of which I found had useful screens, detail just isn’t as refined as the later model cameras.

In the $200-$400 range look for:

1000D,1100D,1200D,1300D,450D,550D. All have fixed screens , with the 450D & 550D having screens with 920,000 dots or better. Now matter how well presented these cameras are I would not pay more than the upper limit in this catergory unless they had prime lenses or better glass than the standard kit lenses. I routinely see 450 & 550D’s selling for $500NZD or more and frankly they are not worth it. Some of the cameras in the last category are over 10 years old, including the 600D. Later model cameras tend to have better inbuilt digital processors and sensors and better ergonomic layouts.

For a basic entry level camera the Canon 1000D is a great place to start and if you are able to procure one for less than $300NZD grab it. It will make a nice addition to a smartphone/DSLR kit. Which will get you photos like this.

So long as you obtain a well functioning camera, preferably with a shutter count of 20,000 or less you should be able to get great photos for a modest financial outlay.

What about Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm?
Sony and Fuji are too expensive generally and theres not a lot to choose from. Nikon also has a much smaller user base here, but the general rule of thumb I applied here for Canon cameras would apply to these three makers as well.

Best options for:

Sony – the A5000,a5100,Nex-5 series. Prices rise very quickly with older Sony cameras.

Fujifilm – possible models to look for are the X-M1, X-A1 & X-A2 and X-E1, most are sold without lenses but if the body price is right you may be able to pickup an XC16-50mm lens or the XC15-45mm lens. This will put you in the $600-$800NZD range or perhaps more. Very nice cameras but they come at a premium price even in the used sector.

Nikon– are similar to the two makes above. Very limited supply and generally tend to be a little more costly than Canon but not as expensive as the other two makes.
Look for a D300,D3100,D3200,D3300,D5100 & D5200.
As of the writing of this the best value for money Nikons are the D300,D3100 & D3200’s. Averaging between $200 & 350NZD. Trademe shows that there are some nice lenses to be had for a modest amount, mostly modest telephoto lenses. Remember that for crop sensor Nikon’s you need to look for DX series lenses. The FX series are for fullframe cameras and while they do work on crop sensor cameras they tend to zoom in too much especially on the wide end of the lens.

All in all for a much larger range of camera bodies and lenses I feel that Canon should be your first port of call. If you dont see something to suit your needs then look to the other manufacturers.
For those curious as to why I topped the budget at $650NZD. For a little more than an extra $200NZD you can get a brand new entry level Canon on special from Harvey Norman for $822.00. Unless you need a better camera than this a sub $650NZD camera is the way to go.

Once the major camera makers phase out DSLR’s and yes they are doing so, both with camera bodies and lenses, the used DSLR market is going to become a place for aspiring photographers to pick up very good quality gear at some really pocket friendly prices. We are not there yet but over the next two to five years its unlikely anyone other than Pentax are going to be producing DSLR’s. With the upwardly spiralling cost a new mirrorless gear the second hand mirrorless market will also become more active.
At the moment most of the second hand mirrorless market is comprised of smaller cameras or the cameras forming the more pro level units. With both Canon and Nikon effectively dropping their entry level mirrorless in favour of the full frame or larger apsc mirrorless cameras, these entry level cameras are going to start fetching premium prices, in fact some of them already are, making DSLR’s often a better and more cost effect choice when buying pre-owned.

Check out the current Trademe listings here.
No matter what you budget may be there most likely is something out there for you as a starting point when selecting a pre loved camera. Good hunting & have fun.

Covid & The end of an era.

I haven’t shot a roll of film for quite some time. One of the places I used to frequent for film and prints was Lindale’s Fujifilm Image Service in Hamilton NZ.

The owner Don always had time for a quick chat even when he was busy and had a wealth of knowledge when it came to photography. Prior to his passing last year, he had retired a year or two earlier and his shop assistant bought the business and continued to run it. She and her partner continued to run the same friendly and personable service. I was unaware of Don’s passing or the closure of the shop towards the end of 2021. Sadly, another business closing the doors thanks to Covid and mandated lockdowns.


Often small businesses operate on small margins and a Covid enforced closure is disastrous, and yet again we see a small family business go by the wayside.

In a city of around a quarter of a million people we appear to be down to one photo lab that still processes film locally. Given the recent horrendous rise in the cost of a roll of film, in most cases close to or exceeding 100% more than at Dec 2019 I have to wonder just how long some of the other labs around the country will hold up in this inflationary market we have at present.

I did a photo shoot in 2018 at a local vintage railway and took two rolls of Kodak Ultramax along. They were 36 exposure rolls and cost $10.00NZD each and that included the freight to my rural location. Now the same roll of film costs $26.00NZD each plus freight. In other words, it now costs twice as much plus just to do the same photo shoot as I did 3 1/2 years ago. On a brighter note our local film processing lab has been able to hold the price of developing a 35mm color film roll to $25.00NZD and that includes scanning as part of the service. Thats only about three bucks more than what I was paying three or four years ago.

You can find Imageland at 55 Lake Road, Hamilton NZ. Hopefully they have weathered the Covid storm and will be with us for some time to come. What this means for the future of film photography at this point is anyone’s guess. If the YouTube community is anything to go by, we seem to be having a renaissance in film photography.

A Pentax MZ50 I bought for $50.00NZD 10 years ago now sells regularly on the local online auction sites for anything up to $200NZD. Supply and demand being what it is and the fact that you can’t buy 35mm SLR or point and shoots new anymore, seems to be driving up the cost of good condition used film cameras. I’m glad I kept one when I got rid of all my other film cameras. Now I just need some film 🙂

R.I.P Don, I will see you on the print side.

In the meantime, happy snappin”

Another camera joins the family.

After buying the GF6 twin lens kit I had always had in the back of my mind the desire to get another camera. A larger sensor and good manual controls being essential, astrophotography was one essential process that I wanted to be able to pursue.

I ruled out mirrorless almost immediately apart from the GF6. The sensor size being too small in the GF6’s case ruled that out as well. Pre-owned mirrorless here in NZ is still too expensive, which meant a DSLR would be the choice. I have been waiting quite some time for the right camera to come along, my preference being Canon, but not necessarily limited to one brand.

Call it luck or perhaps divine intervention – I had planned a trip to a city a little over 1 1/2 hrs. drive from where I live to see my sisters, one of whom was visiting from Australia, and I hadn’t seen her in the best part of 3 or 4 years. I had been scanning the local online auction sites and a camera was listed for what I would call a bargain basement price.

The photos showed what appeared to be an almost new camera, no marks, dust or blemishes of any kind and at $350 NZD I hit the buy now button as the vendor was in the same town as my sisters and would be available for a pickup the next day. The camera came with a Jenova camera bag, battery and charger. Upon getting it home I discovered there was a second genuine Canon battery and a 32gig SD card. The bag had a usb connector cable as well as a mini tripod with a camera or phone mount on it for mobile vlogging. The lens attached was a 18-55 STM lens with UV filter. I already had a spare Canon battery charger and spare battery at home so that gives me three batteries, more than enough for a day’s photo or video work.

To top it all off the camera has only taken 1960 images and still has that new camera smell to it, you know what I mean. So, what is the camera? Another 700D. I had enjoyed my time with the previous 700D although there were quirks about it that irritated me. For whatever reason this particular camera has none of the irritations that seemed to plague the previous 700D.

All functions work flawlessly, and this camera appears to have a slightly updated focus system although it might just be that my previous camera had AF issues I was unaware of, regardless this unit focuses considerably faster than my previous 700D.

Hopefully the weather Gods granting me favorable weather, will allow me some day and nighttime shots. One of the most pleasing aspects of this purchase is I have everything (and more) that I need for a very small sum of money. Given that the previous 700D cost 500NZD just for the camera and lens, without a spare battery, camera bag or SD card the new camera was a bargain. While the average cost of second hand DSLR’s is generally much higher especially for better mid-level and above cameras you can still bag a bargain, you just have to be patient and keep an eye on the local auction sites.

Taken with Canon 700D with the 18-55 STM kit lens @ ISO 100 F8 – 1/200sec. Cropped 50%. Note the water droplets at the center of the rose and the fine veining.

A larger version of this image can be found here

For a kit lens that’s pretty sharp. I used the camera in Macro mode as a close-up test with the rose approx. 300mm (one foot) from the camera. In this mode the lens/camera is producing some nice bokeh with a small plane of focus. There is little to no noise in the image. It appears the newer Digic 5 processor and sensor do a nice job. I had noise reduction in the camera turned off. This was shot as a Jpeg. So far it looks like this camera is a keeper, more to come….

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